Sept 15, 1999
|Save Your PFD
Sept 14, 1999
for YES vote
More reasons to vote NO
Reward budget savers
Regarding the Sept. 14 PFD vote: I say no! The way the state wastes money, the PFD would soon be gone. This would be a foot in the door. It would not stop state spending, only encourage it. The state could cut the budget easily if it put a stop to the snowballing effect of the budget.
If the state and federal governments would give all departments of the government a 20 percent bonus on the money they saved at the end of each year, then divided it equally among those employees in that department without penalizing their budget the next year, you would see every state employee finding ways not to spend money so they could get a nice bonus at the end of the year! This would also help the economy, as the PFDs do every year!
Large companies pay bonuses when employees come up with ideas on how to save the company money. The state needs to start finding ways to cut the budget, and the bonus plan would be a way to stop the snowballing budget and not hurt the people working for the state.
By the way, I do not work for any place in the government and never have.
What about budget reserve?
Tap the Permanent Fund? Sales tax? Income tax? What about the government's budget reserve? What are they saving that for? Hmmmm ...
Paul B. Spychalski
Keep to budget or be flogged
The question: vote yes or vote no. Then yes or no to sales and/or personal income tax in a future upcoming election.
This solution comes to mind. Zero out the Permanent Fund and all of its accounts and divide it equally among all residents who are eligible this year. That would give each recipient more than $50,000. Then give the legislators all the oil revenue to operate the state government. But before doing that, enact a law prohibiting any state sales tax or personal income tax for a period of 75 years.
The state government should also be required to operate within this budget. Failure to do so should be accountable by all elected officials and appointed department heads. Public flogging comes to mind.
Another thought while we are at it: Why not do the same at the local level and say no new taxes or increases for the municipalities, cites and boroughs and put the same requirement on the local elected and appointed officials to live within their budgets, and public flogging of them as well.
What? You say there would be no money to pay the floggers? I am sure there would be no shortage of volunteers to do the job.
Isn't it about time that governments at all levels do some serious work at operating within their budgets? Just think, if it works here, it could be taken a step further and the same requirement could be placed on the federal government. Now, that is something to think about.
Lester W. Cain
The ads for Vote Yes must be the sleaziest since Lindauer's "Letter to the Alaskan People." According to them, we'll all get our dividends, we'll inflation-proof the Permanent Fund, and we'll meet the budget shortfall with some kind of imaginary money. The words "cap" and "less" never get used. It reminds me of a 5-year-old flagging down an ice cream truck. I'm not 5. I don't do "Let's Pretend." I vote against people who do.
Nor is the dividend some sort of "found money" like a Christmas present from Grandma. It is a dividend on royalties from the removal of our oil. It's no different from book royalties or stock dividends. It's not a gift. It's income. It's ours.
Here is the bottom line: Under the Vote Yes plan, Walter Hickel and his wife will contribute two units of Permanent Fund income to the state. Small change. A co-worker of mine is a single mother, just off welfare. She and her baby will contribute exactly the same amount. Rent.
The Vote Yes people are promoting a regressive income tax. We might call them the "Let Them Eat Cake" people. Then again, they also tell us to "send a message to Juneau" that we demand a cap rather than lose the whole thing. We might then call them the "Cooperate or Walk!" people. (Their slogan: "The difference between rape and ecstasy is voting yes on a cap.") I hope to call them the losers.
Give us a real choice
Once again, the Legislature is not giving the people of Alaska a choice. If lawmakers were really representing Alaskans, they would ask us if we prefer a state tax or having them dip into the Permanent Fund. A state tax for everyone or a percentage of our federal income tax seems to be the most equitable for all.
There are hundreds of commercial fishermen, guides, Prudhoe Bay workers and construction workers as well as the huge tourist industry who reap the benefits of high wages and do not permanently reside in Alaska. None of these people are contributing to any services, and meanwhile residents must face increasing property taxes to pay for road maintenance, police protection, etc.
Jay Hammond still stands tall in his efforts to protect the Permanent Fund dividend just as he did back in the 1970s when he suggested the Legislature create it. But, then, Jay Hammond was always a legislator and governor for the people.
Mike Doogan did the research for us to let us know exactly who is behind the "yes" vote. (Daily News, Aug. 22). Perhaps we should consider waiting until we get a Legislature that is more responsive to the people before we allow it to put "the thin edge of the wedge" into the Permanent Fund.
Fund 'tax' is unfair
In 1996 legislative budget deficit spending approached $500 million annually. In 1999 proposed legislative deficit spending for 2000 approaches $1.2 billion.
Budget issues brought forward in 1996 acknowledged spending at an unsustainable rate. No significant corrective legislative action was undertaken.
The absence of a state income tax and/or sales tax was a bonus.
Today the proposed withdrawal of $500 from every Permanent Fund dividend check is a grossly unfair tax against people least able to bear it. It is a regressive tax. It unfairly takes the most from people with the least.
Other means of revenue generation, such as a progressive income tax or sales tax, have been rejected. The current price of Alaska crude has risen precipitously, eliminating the spurious need for capping the PFD.
On top of all of this, the Legislature proposes it be given open authority to spend Permanent Fund reserve earnings. Once authority to implement use of reserve earnings for government operation is granted, its frequency of exercise will grow with that authority's longevity. It removes the immediacy for correcting failed legislative oversight. Once implementation commences, the tendency for abuse will grow exponentially.
Under no circumstances should the Alaska electorate permit issuance of even "specifically limited authority" to employ Permanent Fund earnings toward government operation costs in advance of imposing a progressive state income tax and a state sales tax in conjunction with serious budget reductions.
Robert Emmert Gray
Pols must learn to say no
How about some plain talk about the Permanent Fund dividend advisory vote? I've heard enough about "essential services, additional income sources, enhanced revenue, blah blah blah."
Alaska has been bloated with oil money for about 20 years, and now that we are leveling out (not going broke), the politicians cannot adjust to it. They don't have the nerve to say no to everyone with his hand out. They are like a girl I used to know with a speech defect. She couldn't say no.
Any city, village or borough government that cannot survive on its own tax base without state money should be disbanded or cut back services as necessary. The same goes for any entity receiving state funds, grants or assistance. You stand on your own two feet, or you go belly up. That's how life is. I don't want to hear any of that "quality of life" whining either. That's just bureaucrats begging to maintain their position. I don't owe them a nickel of my Permanent Fund dividend. Do you?
The state Legislature has no money of its own. The U.S. Congress has no money of its own. As strongly as most of them believe it is theirs to do with as they wish, trust me, it ain't. All that money belongs to the people. That's you and me, folks. Don't let anyone tell you differently.
I learned a long time ago how to say no. Like when my checking account balance gets low. If the elected politicians of Alaska have forgotten how to say no, then I will say it for them on Sept. 14. And I will say it again to the incumbents on Election Day.
It's all an expensive farce
I wonder how many people realize that the upcoming election is just a ploy, a farce. The legislators are not bound by our vote. It is "advisory" only.
The whole thing is a colossal waste of money. If the state is so short of money, why is it wasting so much of what it has on this vote? Just think of how much it costs to hold a statewide election. Plus the money for all those TV ads. Add the thousands that are spent to study smoking habits (again) and all the other ridiculous wastes of needed funds that could be used to make up the shortfall that lawmakers claim we have.
All of this to "advise" them of our feelings about our PFD.
Don't kid yourself. They already know how the majority feels. They are trying to manipulate our thinking and thus the vote. How arrogant they are to assume we do not know how to reason and that the people in this state can be led like sheep by their superior knowledge.
They will do as they already plan to do, no matter how we vote. They have in the past and will this time too. Did you ever see a pot of money anywhere that some politician didn't eventually get his or her fingers into?
All we can do is "advise" them, vote and hope.
Let's hear from lawmakers
I'm tired of reading uninformed opinions about why the PFD program should continue with no limits until the well runs dry. There have been thoughtful editorials from several state legislators on the subject. It would be helpful for the Daily News to publish comments from all state legislators before the upcoming advisory vote. After all, they have spent the most time on the issue and are the ones we elected to manage the state budget.
Hmmm, still deciding ...
It does seem we are in a Catch-22 situation. What to do? A good question.
I just finished reading Mike Doogan's Aug. 22 column, and I must say I agree with him. Thanks for the information, Mike.
Alas, then I went on to read the editorial of "The Times." Hmmm, mighty interesting. I was unaware the PFD was set up to use the money for state government and only until all this confusion and fuss did this come to light. The Times editor wrote that the original purpose of the Permanent Fund was to "provide for the use of a portion of the fund's earnings - not the principal, just the earnings - to help offset the cost of running the state." I wonder.
Does any other state have this setup? I think not.
Why are the 12 distinguished Alaskans backing the BP-Arco merger when they know the grass roots behind Vote Yes (page A-10, Aug. 22)?
Has anyone given much thought to tapping the Permanent Fund just one time and stopping? Never again to touch it and set the budget straight for Alaska? Again, hmm and a ho-hum. I fear the legislators would get hungry, greedy and pushy and would just keep digging in for the goodies they budget or yet cannot budget.
As of this writing, I do not know how I will vote. But for sure, I will decide for myself and without the help of Vote Yes. And I will more than likely make the decision at the last minute at the polls. So, my friends, get out and vote, please.
G. Frank Stokes
I recently reviewed my absentee ballot for the Sept. 14 special election and was astounded at seeing the political promises of the "Balanced Budget Plan" printed boldly on the ballot. Campaigning at the polling places is strictly forbidden. Use of the actual ballot as a campaign tool is an absolute outrage. Those responsible should be taken to task.
Don't change a good plan
The people of Alaska have received great benefit from the flow of royalty money from oil development. Other areas have also had oil bonanzas. In light of the upcoming vote relating to our Permanent Fund, it may be instructive to reconsider how oil bonanzas benefited other bonanza areas.
The great state of Texas entrusted its oil revenues to an innocuously named political institution called the "Texas Railway Commission." It proved to be a wonderful agency for funneling the funds away from public scrutiny or use and into the pockets of various politicos and their schemes. Texas has nothing to compare with Alaska's Permanent Fund.
In the 1970s, under wise leadership, Alaska reviewed the mistakes and missteps of people who managed the public wealth that flowed from these and other prior bonanzas. A basic management plan was formulated: invest wisely, inflation-proof the fund from profits, distribute excess profits equally to all citizens, do not let the political process have direct access to the fund.
Fund state costs through the long-established, voter-supervised tax process. Never, never, never let the political machine have access to funds that do not come from taxation. It is only through the tax process that the citizenry can maintain awareness of, and control over, government spending.
The basic plan was and remains a good plan. Invest wisely, distribute the profits equally to all, then tax fairly to meet the state governmental needs.
Please vote no! A no vote is a vote for responsible government.
former legislative aide
House-Senate Joint Committee on the Permanent Fund (1976)
Military contributes to Alaska
This letter is a rebuttal for a letter that was written by Susan Lenardson of Anchorage (Aug. 23). Her statements rubbed me the wrong way, saying in short that military members should not be able to collect the PFD because we are only here for a couple of years, then we leave. I have to say that I totally disagree with her and anyone else who thinks the same way. I do not think most of the people living outside the gates of Fort Richardson and Elmendorf Air Force Base realize how much the military community contributes to your economy and way of life.
We military members come here to Alaska and do a tour of duty ranging from three years to as long as 12 years. During that stay many of us purchase homes and/or automobiles. We shop at the local malls and support the Saturday and Wednesday markets. We go down and root for the Anchorage Bucs, Aces and Pilots. Not to mention that most of us have families of our own to support. We buy clothes and food for them and ourselves.
Many military members are further educating themselves by enrolling themselves in college like UAA. But then when it comes time to file for the PFD you don't think we deserve it.
If you ask me it sounds like you want us to act like residents and support Anchorage and the local economy but when it comes time to reap the benefits like a resident you want it all to yourself. What each Alaska resident receives each year is just a fraction of the money that we put into this local economy.
I don't think you should blame the military as a scapegoat for the PFD problems. You should look at the people who want to take the PFD from us in the first place.
What about oil prices?
As the date for the PFD advisory vote approaches, I have been watching with interest the advertising campaign for the VOTE YES group. I realize that the state Legislature will need to respond to any decline in oil revenues by budgeting differently. Using part of the Permanent Fund is one option, and increasing taxes is another.
Last year the price of oil dipped below $10 a barrel, and that made us all aware that
the state may not be able to run on oil forever. However, the price of oil is back up above $20 a barrel, higher than it was when the price began dropping rapidly last year. Why is it that we aren't hearing much about the current price of oil in the midst of the budget discussion?
It seems relevant.
Here's how to fund government
So, they claim to need more money to run the state. The revenue from gas taxes, the money they take from the earning of the Permanent Fund is not enough? Well, I have some suggestions on how they might raise revenues and cut spending.
Enforce the laws and push the judges to fine offenders to repay the community for the cost that they create. Enforce litter and graffiti laws and make these people pay for the damage they cost. Raise the tax on alcohol and require those who buy alcohol to show ID. If they cannot control themselves, make it illegal for them to possess alcohol. This reduces crime and associated costs and allows the police to enforce other laws, not to mention reducing jail population.
Set a fee for picking up the drunks and taking them to sleep-off shelters. If they do not pay it, garnishee their Permanent Fund. This would reduce the number of them spending all that money on alcohol, not to mention cut the cost to local governments and allow the funds to be better spent.
Hire some investigators to handle all the fraud in the food stamp and welfare cases and force offenders to pay back the funds they stole. Sell some of the land the state now holds to allow Alaskans to buy it. Outlaw property taxes in the state and instead push for a fair sales tax. Stop - yes, I said stop - funding local governments with state money. Instead of hiring people to clean up around the state and landscaping, make the prisoners do it. Then if you need more money, the politicians could try bringing their pay down to the average of those they work for.
Are we stupid? Vote will tell
Yes, I originally wrote a letter to the editor supporting a "yes" vote on the ballot. Well, to be honest, that was before the "official ballot language" of "cut state expenses." We've been cutting for 15 years and have been paying the price in subcontracting rip-offs and privatizing profiteering.
Yes, once again we've been hoodwinked (well, attempted, since the election hasn't taken place) by Big Oil and their co-cohorts.
It's a lie, folks! Gail and her conservative morons took $1.2 billion in surplus (after all the expenses, including your dividend checks) and squandered it into wasted surplus, then said, "Oh, we are broke."
Guess how much we are broke by?
If you guessed $1.2 billion, you're pretty smart by the Republican Party standards.
Well, now comes the majority of the House and the majority of the Senate saying nothing less than "vote" to get us out of our incompetent management. Are we really that stupid? Only the election will tell.
Ron Rathbun Sr.
Let's see who donates check
It amazes me how almost everyone has missed the simple answer to the current flap over the Permanent Fund. Since it seems that the difference between those adamant for the "yes" vote and those opposed or unsure won't be solved easily by voting, let us put the pen to our views. Place a little box on each Permanent Fund dividend application that quite "simply" authorizes the government to utilize that individual's PFD to pay its bills. Those who do not check the box will receive their PFD. In this way the truth will come out. I personally believe that there would not a single box checked-off "yes." Cynical I may be, but this method will surely root the "truth" out.
Keep your hands off the fund
We are being asked to vote yes on Sept. 14. Do we look crazy?
From the television we hear sweet ladies telling us what's good for us. They warn us that if we vote no, our dividend program could be jeopardized, inflation could fall over the land and personal income tax become a certainty.
If you weren't here in 1976 and are incapable of reading or researching facts, then, of course, you have to do as you're told. As for the rest of us, since this act takes effect immediately, we need to ask questions.
If the original intent (no record offered to date) was to unlock the fund (with no cap?), then why didn't the existing government start their own Permanent Fund? They had $900 million from the sale of leases in 1969, scads of federal funds and the lowest population of any state.
Let the people continue to put the money where they want it to do the most good for Alaska. Simply put, keep the Permanent Fund here and buy here, and you should never be asked to vote yes again.
The people's Permanent Fund isn't broken. Leave it alone!
Edythe M. McCuaig
Hang up on push pollers
I was called on a recent morning by a woman from "Western Marketing" who was unwilling or unable to tell me who was paying her organization to conduct its sleazy, immoral and possibly illegal telemarketing campaign that she deceptively referred to as a "survey."
Once she had determined that I was going to vote no in the September PFD advisory election, she asked a "question" that included the big lie being touted by the "Yes" folks: "Would it change your mind if you knew that your dividend checks would end if you vote no?"
This was NOT a poll. It was a so-called push poll, designed to persuade voters with lies and deception. "Dividend checks will not end if we vote no!"
I urge everyone who gets called by this "poll" to do what I did - inform that caller that what they are doing is immoral and probably illegal because they aren't identifying who is paying them to campaign, and then refuse to answer any further questions and hang up.
If enough of us refuse to participate in this sham "survey," maybe these folks will get the message that their sleazy campaign tactics are only going to increase the "No" vote.
Don't be a sheep; vote no
It doesn't take a mental giant to see that high-powered, high-cost advertising is not paid for, nor is it in the interest of the average person.
These ads are structured to deceive and manipulate the little people into feeding the self-serving greed of big business.
Lincoln said: "God must have loved the little people because he made so many of them." Don't be a sheep. Don't be naive. Be aware, Sept. 14, vote no!
Don't drill in my wallet
It had to happen. The good old boys at the Voice of the Oil Patch are voting yes, and nobody asked them. They just thought that since the oil industry here in Alaska was advocating a raid on the dividend, why not join the party? Hell!
I guess there's nothing wrong with it, after all, the Voice of the Oil Patch is owned by a filthy rich Alaskan(?) who has ties with the oil industry in a very big way. That's fine, as long as the bits are pointed at the ground and not my wallet. You tap into this baby and no telling what might jump out at you.
Just as the beetle infestation brought dire, false warnings of massive, uncontrolled wildfires, so is the budget problem inviting dire, false warnings of massive, uncontrolled dividends and squalid living conditions. Well if either ever happens, my dividend will buy my ticket out of here with change.
I've been here most of the 50 years since my daddy came north and I have seen a hell of a lot worse and we called them the good old days. Maybe the good old boys at the Voice of the Oil Patch mean well, but when your job is on the line, well, heed the warnings!
One last thing. When it comes to money, whether I trip over it, beg for it, win it, work for it or, for God's sake, inherit it, it's mine pal, and you won't get it till you pry my cold, greedy fingers from around that check!
Why did we elect 'nitwits?'
Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't we elect all of these nitwits based on a "hands off the Permanent Fund" platform? I don't remember a single politician who espoused tapping the Permanent Fund during the last election. Just look at 'em now. This advisory vote is nothing. Not even a well-disguised attempt to give us enough rope to hang ourselves by voting yes. And you can bet they're hoping we do. If we vote yes, they raid the fund with no limits and without any opprobrium come next election when they'll plead, "Oh, I just did what you told me you wanted."
But even if the no vote holds in the face of the millions of dollars in ad campaigns being waged by the other side, what then? How many times have we voted to move the capital? Still in Juneau the last time I checked. How about medicinal marijuana? Remember their reaction to that one? How many times can you remember when we, the voting public, have made our wishes known, only to have the politicians respond with, "Oh, I don't think you fully understood what you were voting on, so we're going to ignore your vote."?
And do you really believe the budget could be balanced with all of the money in the Permanent Fund? If you do, you haven't been paying any attention to how the government works. It doesn't matter how much you give them, they still manage to spend more.
As for me, I'm voting no. It gives me great pleasure to know that some politician in Juneau is gnashing his/her teeth at all that money that I get that doesn't belong to him, and that to raid for his/her personal pork projects would result in political suicide. The only way to balance the budget is to reduce government, but again, when was the last time you ever saw THAT happen?
Lottery is a better gamble
Why should just Alaska residents who get the Permanent Fund dividend have to pay for government services that all Alaskans and tourists use? Everyone should help pay for these services.
My suggestion would be either to have a state tax, like many other states have, that everyone would pay, or set up a state lottery, like many other states also do.
I know many people would consider a lottery as gambling, but being run by the state, that should alleviate concerns about corruption, unless the governor doesn't have confidence in his employees.
I bet if the Legislature would check they would be surprised at how many Alaskans go to Las Vegas/Reno every year. Why not keep some of that money in Alaska?
I'm going to vote no because I feel there are other solutions that would be more fair.
Nola J. Bragg
Count your fingers first
Fool me once, your fault. Fool me twice, my fault. I'm talking about the scheme of those who are conniving to nationalize our Permanent Fund dividend checks. Spearheading this raid is the closest thing to communism in the free world - the state employee unions, especially the schoolteachers.
Back in the frenetic first-fruit days of oil wealth, this state squandered billions of dollars on pipe dreams. We are now stuck with a lot of useless infrastructure like parks full of dead trees, virtually unused bicycle and foot paths to and from nowhere, multimillion-dollar schools without students (many now being closed) and, worst of all, tens of thousands of unionized state employees vested with lifetime health care and paychecks. They already confiscate the bulk of our property taxes. They won't sleep well until they have everything.
My advice to those who plan to get their fingers on my dividend check? Learn an alternate way of counting to 10 before you try it. Remember, these are people who have had a seven-year incestuous relationship with brother Clinton. He would not have been elected without the vote of the National Education Association. To the voters I say do not let these people lie to you again. Please vote no on Sept. 14.
A definition of permanent
"Permanent" should be at least until the last recipient of the first $1,000 PFD check has left the state for good.
Beware the phony poll
Wow, did I ever have an interesting lesson last week. I received a phone call from a party claiming to be doing a survey about the Permanent Fund vote coming up. "Would I be willing to participate and answer several questions," the party asked. Being the civic-minded, free-thinking soul that I am, I agreed to the survey.
Now get this: Before each question, I was literally told how to vote on that question! After each question, I was scolded for my choice of options! A brick would be able to deduce that this phoney poll was a "training and propaganda" ploy by the Vote Yes side. I do understand that Big Business supports a "yes" vote and will spend great sums of money to convince us to do likewise. "Ye shall know them by their works." Which part of "Vote no! Save the Permanent Fund" don't you get?
Stuart A. Reder
Don't give politicians your soul
I urge everyone to vote no on the question of spending the Permanent Fund. If you don't, you have consigned your fate, your liberty and your labor, in the form of taxes, to politicians. The vote is a major signpost. Let them have your money, your effort, your spirit and they will have your soul.
If the public says yes, it is telling politicians that it's not concerned enough to protect its own fund. Worse yet, it will give politicians the green light to continue with massive spending instead of seeking further cuts and reforms.
What is entirely missing from this vote is a third choice, that of directing politicians to stop spending money like drunken sailors as they've been doing since the advent of Big Oil.
I ask people who care about their freedom and prosperity to vote no on Sept. 14. I also ask that you go one step further. Call, write, fax and e-mail, get on radio talk shows, and apply pressure on the Legislature to actually reduce government to a more manageable size as our forefathers envisioned. This ought to be our noble lineage and present to the future as we move into the new millennium.
Rep. Vic Kohring
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Save your Dividend (SYD)
P.O. Box 670
Kenai, Alaska 99611
Bill Parish, Chair